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Where is the line between ethics and your domain name?

Virtually every business has a website built on their chosen domain name, or URL. To many, the internet is a means of convenience – both for making purchasing decisions and reaching an expanded customer base.

The web also provides countless ways to capitalize on other people’s ideas. Cybersquatters may benefit from your concepts by registering a domain name similar to that of your business. Depending on the situation, these websites registered for personal profit could violate your intellectual property (IP) rights.

Potential consumer protection contradictions

Legal regulations protect your IP while prohibiting misrepresentation and false advertising. For example, a competitor of yours cannot purchase a similar domain for their use.

Facebook filed trademark infringement lawsuits against Namecheap and Whoisguard due to domain names similar to those owned by Facebook. To consumers, and seem legitimate.

Fortunately, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) allows the owner of a trademark to sue whoever is sitting on a specific registered domain. However, the laws designed to provide adequate privacy and protection may thwart that process.

The right to privacy may override the right to hold someone accountable

In some circumstances, cybersquatting legislation could potentially infringe upon an American’s constitutional right to freedom of speech. Reports suggest that while Facebook has the right to take legal action, Whoisguard protects private consumer identification for those registering domains through Namecheap.

To date, data privacy laws seem to stand in the way of Facebook’s IP protection. Yet, the owners of the social media app are asserting their rights.

It is too soon to tell how a court will rule in this case. However, it is important to recognize that if someone else takes advantage of your ideas, concepts or innovations, you can protect your sole ability to profit from your IP.

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